The invention of the steam engine made life easier because it improved transportation methods, aided the development of industry, and opened new opportunities for an emerging middle class. The steam engine is credited with sparking the industrial revolution.
The steam engine was the basis for rapid expansion of the railroad system, speeding up transportation of people and goods. Distribution of goods became more dependable, and merchants were able to order goods knowing that they would arrive when promised to be sold to waiting customers.
The engine also introduced people to the possibilities of travel both by rail and ship by making it swift and affordable. It also fueled the development of more-efficient manufacturing processes, which lowered the cost of goods, making them more readily available and affordable. In addition to improving manufacturing efficiency, it also saved on coal costs, making it not only a money-saving invention, but an environmentally friendly one as well.
The engine also inspired an entirely new industry of tool manufacturing as its construction required many new machines. Although work in manufacturing was difficult and often brutal, the shift away from agricultural labor moved workers to urban areas where they learned new skills and had the opportunity to obtain an education, spawning what would become the middle class.